Selected Press Release
Title Employee Courtesy Ranks Most Important to Professional Shoppers
Date Published 07/21/2005
Author Hart Associates



Mystery Shoppers Weigh In on Customer Service Trends During National Conference; Participants Spend 5,400 Hours Each Month Shopping More Than 4,000 Locations

ANAHEIM, Calif., July 21, 2005 – Employee courtesy tops the list of essential elements in the total customer experience, according to a poll of professional shoppers attending the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) Educational Conference for Shoppers held July 15-17 in Anaheim, Calif.

The nearly 150 mystery shoppers who participated in the MSPA survey spend a combined 5,400 hours each month conducting more than 4,000 shops.

The MSPA conference hosted mystery shoppers from all over the country who specialize in everything from restaurant shops to retail stores, banks and hotels. When asked which elements of the total customer experience they found most important, an overwhelming 69 percent said employee courtesy, followed by 23 percent who felt employee knowledge was most important.

An overwhelming 85.8 percent of the respondents said service has improved in locations in which the mystery shoppers consistently visited between 2004 and 2005.

“In today’s competitive marketplace, it is critical for companies to take every step necessary to ensure great customer service, which ultimately results in repeat customer visits,” said John Swinburn, MSPA Executive Director. “Mystery Shopping programs help companies measure and enhance the customer experience, and can pin-point areas where they might be lacking against the competition. According to the MSPA poll, the most important element in the total customer experience is polite employees.”

The good news for company owners – shoppers said employee courtesy was the strongest element they currently find during their shops (44 percent), followed by store cleanliness (28 percent) and employee knowledge (18 percent).

Up-selling was the biggest area where companies seem to be consistently lacking. Nearly 41 percent of mystery shoppers said up-selling is the element in which they most often see businesses fall short.

“Taking the initiative to learn each customer’s needs and using that information to suggest additional items or programs can be very beneficial in creating a lasting customer relationship,” Swinburn said. “It can also increase sales significantly for almost any organization, whether it’s a restaurant, a retail shop or a bank.”

Mystery shoppers, consumers who anonymously and objectively evaluate customer service, operations, merchandising, product quality and other elements of the customer experience, were gathered at the MSPA Educational Conference for Shoppers for a weekend of networking and training opportunities.

The MSPA is the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality through the use of mystery shoppers.

About the MSPA

With more than 180 member companies worldwide, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association has a diverse membership, including marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations and companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services. Its goals are to establish professional standards and ethics for the industry, educate providers, clients and shoppers to improve quality of service, improve the image of the industry and promote the membership to other industry associations and prospect clients.

Media Contact:

Jana Conley

Hart Associates for MSPA